Man tried in death of baby

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, December 17, 2002

NATCHEZ &045; It’s hard to imagine anything worse than the death of an infant.

But, according to authorities who testified in the case of 6-month-old Chloe Madison Britt, who died Feb. 21, it apparently got much worse

Prosecutors spelled out the case surrounding the Britt’s untimely death in grisly detail Tuesday as the murder trial of Jeffery Havard &045; the first capital murder trial in Adams County in almost a decade &045; got under way.

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The night the incident occurred, Havard, now 24, had been living with Rebecca Britt, the infant’s mother, for three weeks in a trailer on Montgomery Road.

Havard sent Britt to the grocery store to buy dinner. He stayed with the baby.

When Britt got back to the trailer, Havard told her he had bathed the baby. She said she found nothing strange about it at the time, but in her testimony, she recalled that Havard had never paid much attention to her daughter before.

&uot;He didn’t spend much time with her,&uot; Britt said. &uot;He didn’t go out of his way to do things for her.&uot;

Britt checked on her daughter briefly, then went out on another errand for Havard, this time to the video store.

Upon her return to the trailer, Britt said she found her daughter unconscious and blue, showing no signs of breathing or a pulse. Havard, she said, had locked himself in the bathroom. Britt tried to resuscitate her daughter, then told Havard to take her to hospital, she testified.

Upon the couple’s arrival at the emergency room at Natchez Regional Hospital, a team of doctors and nurses attempted to bring the baby back to life. They managed to get a heartbeat for a short period of time but could not save the girl.

Dr. Ayesha Dar said it became evident the effort was futile when the infant’s head and face began to swell and her eyes became red, signs of subdural hematoma and retinal hemorrhage, both indicative of &uot;shaken baby syndrome.&uot;

&uot;She started to swell Š her face, her head, everything,&uot; said Dr. Laurie Patterson, the emergency room physician on duty that night.

The infant showed other signs of violence, as well, doctors said.

Every witness who was in the emergency room that night testified Tuesday to the presence of bruising on the baby’s inner thighs and forehead.

Dar also said the condition of the girl’s rectum showed clear signs of sexual abuse.

Although Havard said nothing to Britt or any of the hospital personnel about shaking the infant, in a videotaped statement taken later that night, he told Adams County Sheriff’s deputies that he had dropped her in the tub. The video was shown to jurors Tuesday.

When he picked the infant up, Havard said she didn’t appear to be breathing, so he shook her, according to the videotaped. &uot;I didn’t think I shook her hard at all,&uot; he said on the video.

Havard was at a loss to account for the girl’s rectal injuries, though. &uot;I can’t explain how it happened,&uot; he said on the video.

Havard’s trial will continue today.